b.1 June 1918 d.18 December 1992
BA Cantab(1940) MB BChir(1942) MA(1945) MD(1948) FRCPath(1963) MRCP(1967) FRCP(1974)
Harold Winner was the son of Jacob Davis Winner, a tailor and hosier, and his wife Janet née Blooman. His family name, later changed by deed poll, took origin in the mistake of a sign writer who transcribed Winner for Weiner over his father’s shop. Born at Windsor, Berkshire, Harry was educated at Colet Court and St Paul’s School, London. He was awarded a major scholarship to Cambridge University and went up to Downing College, gaining first class honours in his Tripos in 1940. He qualified in medicine in 1942, having pursued his clinical studies at University College Hospital, London.
He returned to Cambridge, to a post at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and then joined the RAMC as a captain, serving in India and Burma from 1942-1944. Most of this service was as a Field Ambulance medical officer in the Burma campaign. His sojourn in the Indian subcontinent afforded him first hand acquaintance with epidemic bacterial disease and led him to take up a career in pathology and bacteriology on his return home. Harold Winner was able to evoke powerful images of the great pandemics that he had seen, none more telling than that of the poor diligently cleaning their teeth with effluent in a filthy gutter at the height of a waterborne epidemic. His sense of history and of the drama of microbial disease as it affected the human condition was to make him an inspirational teacher. Many of his students became medical microbiologists.
Harry resumed his interrupted postgraduate training in medicine in 1944, serving as house physician at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Shadwell, and at Booth Hall, Manchester, and then entering the emergency pathology service and, later, the London County Council pathology service. In 1950 he joined the staff of Charing Cross Hospital where he was to become successively senior lecturer, reader and professor of medical microbiology. The microbiology laboratories were housed on the third floor of what had been an elegant restaurant, Gatti’s, in the Strand backing on William IV Street, and said to have been patronized by King Edward VII. The diagnostic work was carried out in a fin-de-siecle interior amidst plate glass mirrors, mahogany and marble fittings and elaborately ornamented plasterwork. For Harry Winner much of the charm of Gatti’s lay in its proximity to the National Gallery and to other art collections, where he often spent his lunch hour. The building is now part of Coutts Bank. Here Harry laid the foundations of an academic department later to remove to Fulham, to the new Charing Cross Hospital, and subsequently to be one of the partners in the department of medical microbiology at the Charing Cross and Westminster medical school. Under his leadership, when the department opened in 1972 it offered a modern and full diagnostic service in bacteriology, virology and mycology.
Harry Winner’s principle research interests lay in medical mycology and Charing Cross Hospital was one of the few medical schools to have a mycology department. With a former student, Rosalinde Hurley, he wrote the first book ever published on Candida albicans: Candida albicans, London, Churchill, 1964, and also published experimental and clinical papers on the mycoses. His general interest in microbiology was evidenced by publication of further books: Microbiology in modern nursing, London, English University Press, 1969 and Microbiology in patient care, 1972. He took most pride in the latter book, although the one that probably gave him most pleasure to write was Louis Pasteur and microbiology, London, Friary Press, 1974.
In the course of his academic career, Harry Winner travelled, lectured and examined widely, visiting especially universities in Africa, the United States and the Far East. He served as president of the section of pathology, Royal Society of Medicine, and held office as honorary editor in the Society. He was honorary archivist to the Royal College of Pathologists for many years after retirement and he had served on many local and national committees, including the advisory committee on dangerous pathogens.
Harry’s wife, Nina, was a lady of charm, wit, intelligence and humour, to whom he was truly devoted. She died before him, in 1986. Both his sons are doctors. Compassionate, sensitive and caring, he was a cultured man with a genuine and rare knowledge and love of art, music and history. He subscribed to the National Art Collections Fund and was a member of the National Trust. He was also a fellow of the Zoological Society and the Royal Horticultural Society.
[Brit.med.J., 1993,306,1335;Bull.Roy.Coll Path., June 1993,83,5]
(Volume IX, page 595)
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